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Destination Kailua

Explore the shops, restaurants, schools and businesses that make Kailua an alluring piece of paradise.


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On the Shopping Block

Shopping often feels like a treasure hunt in Kailua, where the streets are lined with distinctive boutiques filled with one-of-a-kind finds that hold true to the area’s eco-friendly but fashionable style.

Left: A sampling of the eclectic imports from Nomads Hawaii. Above: Gently-used special occasion dresses and accessories line the shelves at Kailua Verde.

Kailua felt like the perfect neighborhood to set up shop, says Nandini Bhattacharjee, owner of Nomads Hawaii. “It’s a vibrant community, and it seems like a very connected community,” she says. “There’s always a block party, always a celebration.” She describes her brand new store as an eclectic mix of “global and local goods, gifts and oddities” that Bhattacharjee hand picks abroad and imports back home. You’ll find  hand-embroidered textiles from India, homewares and décor from Pakistan and Nepal, and jewelry from Ecuador, France and Argentina. Nomads’ lineup of artisanal goods will change, but a focus on fair-trade, ethically sourced materials, recycled, organic and vegan items will remain constant. “I love showcasing anything with a point of view.”

Find handmade furnishings and beachy-chic decor at Red Bamboo.

Finding furnishings with a story is a specialty of Carole Jacobs. She opened Red Bamboo after an eye-opening trip to Indonesia, and travels back to Bali twice a year to uncover more distinctive finds for shoppers. The real stunners are teak and saur wood furnishings. “All the furniture is handmade,” Jacobs explains. “A lot of it is one-of-a-kind. We strive to get unique pieces.” And much of the wood is reclaimed. For instance, you could find a bar made from recycled wood from Balinese boats, or a table made with the handles of a rice cart.

Red Bamboo also has everything you need to finish off any room, from bedding to artwork, jewelry, books, souvenirs and far more. “We recently expanded from 1,500 to 4,000 square feet, which allowed us to bring in more products,” says Jacobs. That now includes apparel, hats, bags, and accessories. New items include custom-made “I Love Hawaii” undies, and exclusive Red Bamboo waterproof tote bags emblazoned with Hawaii street signs.

When it comes to dressing up your wardrobe in an eco-friendly way, Kailua Verde is the stop. Owner Lilian McDonnell’s motto is “Reduce, reuse, refashion,” and the proof is in the racks and racks of stylish staples in her high-end consignment shop. The boutique is chock-full with vintage, gently used, and new clothing and accessories for women and men. Bargain hunters come in for the large selection of designer handbags, shoes, and special occasion dresses. But what really makes the store interesting are the unexpected items, from Niihau shell necklaces to vintage Versace shirts and marionette puppets from Budapest. The shop carries locally made items as well, such as soaps, paintings, koa paddles and more. “Not everything is used,” McDonnell points out. “We have a lot of brand new items. Everything is nice, clean and classic. I’m very selective.” And she aims to keep things affordable, adding, “You don’t have to sacrifice quality or looks for a great price.”

Manuhealii stocks cheerful Hawaiian prints in its cottage shop.

In a quaint cottage on Hoolai Street, traditional aloha attire is getting a very modern makeover by the designers at Manuhealii.  Since 1985, this family company has fashioned vibrantly-hued styles for men, women and keiki. Now, shoppers can find everything from bold, bright prints in stylish sixties silhouettes to sleek sundresses and casually chic slip tops.  “It’s contemporary clothing made from a Hawaiian perspective,” says owner Danene Lunn. Scarves are always big sellers, along with Island themed housewares and stationery. Lunn says they keep things fresh with a new print every four to six weeks, this month’s being the Kuulei collection, named after the owner’s auntie. Manuheali‘i also keeps things eco-friendly; its Mokulua collection uses a sustainable bamboo lycra, and every scrap leftover from every print is used to make fun and breezy shopping bags, pillows and blankets.

Sustainability is also the mantra at Muumuu Heaven, where owners Deb and Eric Mascia resurrect vintage muumuu and aloha attire to create truly one-of-a-kind originals for the entire family. They also keep the shop filled to the brim with earth-conscious homewares, local artwork and recycled treasures. Deb says her shop has a large focus on the community, and this year will offer more art openings, summer concerts and film screenings. “Change is inevitable everywhere, and Kailua is no exception,” she says. “I think the lifestyle here is always going to stay the same. I just hope Mahina will always be there at the bar at Buzz’s when we need her.” So what’s new at Muumuu Heaven this year? Along with the steady stream of new arrivals, Deb urges, “I’d have to say, come on in and see for yourself. You never know what is going to be happening at the store, but it is always fun.”

A vintage fabric tote and dress from Muumuu Heaven.
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Honolulu Magazine February 2019
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